Elections, agreements, and reshuffling: a new face for the ‘new normal’
A dynamic political landscape: elections, agreements, and reshuffling
Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.
On 28 June, Poland voted in the first round of the presidential elections. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the turnover was high, at more than 64%. Incumbent President Andrzej Duda (PiS) came out on top, receiving 43% of the vote, and Mr Trzaskowski (Civic Platform), the main opposition candidate, received just over 30% of the vote. Independent candidate Szymon Hołownia was in third place (13%), which is interesting as it was his political debut, while the far-right nationalist Krzysztof Bosak (Confederate) was in fourth (7%). The most recent polls indicate a run-off between Mr Duda and Mr Trzaskowski would be too close to call. Mr Hołownia stated that none of the two candidates were his personal choice, but he nonetheless plans to vote against Duda's vision for Poland. Mr Bosak refused to encourage their supporters to vote on either of the candidates. Now, both candidates will face each other in the second round of the election on 12 June. Overall, the presidential campaign shows that the nation is very much divided and strongly polarised between PiS supporters and an anti-PiS faction, consisting of liberals on the left.
Micheal Martin, from the center-right movement Fianna Fail, became Ireland’s Prime Minister on 27 June. He replaces Leo Varadkar, from the center-right political movement Fine Gael. Mr Varadkar had been serving as a caretaker prime minister to manage the fallback from the pandemic, but received criticism over how this was carried out. After over four months of negotiations, a new coalition government was formed with Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, and the smaller Green Party. This is the first government to include both rival center-right movements, which usually alternate in power. The coalition is under a power-sharing arrangement and Mr Martin will stand down in two years, to be replaced by the leader of Fine Gael.
On 3 July, the Committee for Social and Economic Reconstruction of the Congress will see its final conclusions voted on before being amended and voted on in a plenary session later in July, after regional elections in the Basque Country and Galicia. The draft conclusions from the Working Group on Healthcare and Public Health include 186 measures aimed at structurally changing the national and regional healthcare systems. The document gathers myriad actions on pharmaceutical policy, innovation, access to medicines and other related healthcare matters which could guide the government’s actions in public health in the upcoming years. Regarding tracing, Spain has started a pilot programme to track Covid-19 cases with the application “Radar Covid”. The app has been launched by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation through the Department for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence jointly with the Canary Islands Healthcare System (SCS). The application aims to evaluate technical aspects and user experience to improve the design and the modus operandi and to potentially implement it in the rest of the country.
Across England, the lockdown is set to ease further on 4 July except for Leicester, which sees the first local lockdown in the UK. Despite the ongoing pandemic and threat of a second wave of infections, the Conservative Government is pressing ahead with civil service reforms masterminded by Special Adviser Dominic Cummings. Sir Mark Sedwill will resign as national security adviser in September, and will be replaced by Brexit negotiator David Frost; the move is unprecedented, as Frost represents the first political appointment to the Council. The UK’s GDP fell by 20.4% in the three months to April, the biggest quarterly fall the UK has ever seen. Boris Johnson announced Britain’s new plan to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed he will deliver an economic update on 8 July "setting out the next stage in our plan to secure the recovery".
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the return of optometry services and cervical cancer screening since the beginning of the pandemic. Within the Scottish Parliament, the main topic of discussion was an urgent need for reform of the Scottish "incoherent" medicines system. The Scottish Health Committee has similarly stressed "serious failings" exist in the supply of medicines.
Union faction leader Ralph Brinkhaus is pushing for a reform of the electoral law this summer. Brinkhaus intends the reform to take effect before the 2021 federal elections. At present, the German Bundestag at its first session incorporated 111 more MPs than the statutory number of 598. Over the years, the Bundestag had become larger due to overhanging and equalizing mandates. Overhang mandates can arise in elections when voters cast a first vote on candidates and a second vote on electoral lists. The second votes on the electoral list are used to decide the ratio of the allocation of seats in a body. If more candidates are elected with the direct election than the electoral list is entitled to by the second vote on seats, so-called overhang mandates are produced. At EU level, the German Presidency of the Council was published on 30 June. The programme emphasises the need for digital innovation, managing the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and addressing Europe’s position in the world.
You can find more information on European news in our EU national elections heatmap, where we provide an overarching perspective with key political insight for individual countries. Make sure to check it here.